Alberto Manguel is an anthologist, translator, essayist and editor. His latest books are A Reader on Reading, The Library at Night (both Yale University Press) and All Men Are Liars (Alma Books).

Xenophilia and other gestures

Not all of us can be like Sir John Bowring, the British statesman who could read 200 languages and speak a hundred; few of us share American Vice-President Dan Quayle's regret, prior to a trip to Latin America, of not having studied Latin at school. Most of us stand somewhere in between, wishing we could decipher a menu in a Chinese restaurant in Beijing, or pour sweet nothings into a Norwegian ear in Oslo.

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